Burn Injuries in the Service and Hospitality Industry

Burn Injuries Kitchens Cleaning - Service Worker Injury

When we think of workplace burns, our thoughts usually turn to construction site accidents, or large chemical mishaps at manufacturing plants. But burn injuries are also common among service industry employees as well, especially those who work in the food industry, in hospitality, and in restaurants. Servers, bussers, housekeepers, gardeners, and others who serve the public may be susceptible to burn injuries in the course of their daily tasks.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 11,840 workers sustained thermal burns severe enough to keep them out of work in 2020. Another 3,540 suffered chemical burns and corrosions. Both types of burns are a real risk to service and hospitality workers, who deal with hot food and liquids, as well as corrosive cleaning materials, as a daily part of their employment. In fact, the Maryland Department of Health reports that “Thermal and chemical burns are the most frequent types of work-related burn injury. A substantial proportion of burns occur in the service industry, especially in food service, often disproportionately affecting working adolescents.”

Burn injuries to service industry workers

Some of the most common burn injuries that service industry workers suffer include the following:

  • Thermal burns, which are caused by boiling hot liquids or objects, open flames, and explosions. These injuries may happen in restaurants where there are grills, scorching pots, scalding coffee, sizzling oil, heated burners, and open flames.
  • Chemical burns, which are caused by harsh chemical exposure to the skin or eyes. Those who work in janitorial services may experience chemical burns when exposed to drain cleaners and rust removers and other strong chemicals used to sanitize and clean homes, hotel rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. In addition, medical industry workers are also likely to be exposed to chemical burns.
  • Electrical burns, which are caused when an electric current runs through the body and meets resistant body tissue, causing heat burn injuries. Hospitality and janitorial service workers exposed to water and electricity, or live wires may experience electrical burns.
  • Sun exposure burns, which are caused from unprotected prolonged time in the sun. Servers at outdoor restaurants, gardeners, lifeguards, and even babysitters are among workers who may find themselves with sunburn due to extra time in the sun that was not planned.

Many burn injuries will heal on their own without medical intervention and will not pose serious health issues. More serious burns, however, require immediate medical attention to prevent complications and sometimes even death.

Degrees of burn severity

It is interesting to note that the type of burn is not based on what caused it. For example, hot scalding water can cause first-, second-, or third-degree burns, depending on how hot the liquid is when it meets the skin.

A first-degree burn is superficial, causes minimal skin damage, and only affects the top layer of the skin. Symptoms of first-degree burns include red skin, pain, and mild swelling.

A second-degree burn extends beyond the top layer of skin and often causes blisters, redness, and soreness. Symptoms of second-degree burns include:

  • Deep red skin
  • Pain
  • Blisters
  • Leaking fluid and glossy skin
  • Possible skin loss

A third-degree burn destroys the epidermis and the dermis, may destroy tissue underneath, and can appear white or charred. Symptoms of third-degree burns include:

  • Loss of skin layers
  • No pain (although patches of first and second-degree burns may cause pain)
  • Dry, leathery skin
  • White and charred patches of skin

A fourth-degree burn is considered a medical emergency. It affects all skin layers, may possibly damage muscle, tendons and/or bone. Fourth-degree burns may lead to amputation if the burn occurs in a limb or extremity. Symptoms may include:

  • Exposed bone or tendons
  • No pain
  • White and charred patches of skin

Can I claim workers’ compensation in Maryland for burn injuries?

If any of these injuries are a result of the course of employment and/or an employer’s negligence, an employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Maryland employers must carry workers’ compensation coverage. Workers’ compensation in Maryland covers accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment.

Maryland’s law is specific in its wording. It doesn’t mean “while working” or “on the job.” Injuries will only be covered if they “arise out of and in the course of employment.” This may be difficult to prove, so hiring a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer will be helpful to your case.

If you’ve suffered a burn injury on the job, you need experienced attorneys to help you with the complexities of Maryland workers’ compensation law. This is especially true because insurance companies will encourage their lawyers to do whatever they can to avoid compensating you fairly for your work-related injuries.

If you suffered a personal injury like a serious burn during your employment, our Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. Maryland workers’ compensation lawyers will work to ensure that you secure the benefits you deserve. We will defend your best interests whether your employer is big or small. Call our lawyers at 410-730-7737 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.